MEN’S BASKETBALL Hoyas Hold Down Ft. Hood Sweetney Shines In First Preseason Game By Sean Gormley Hoya Staff Writer

Dan Gelfand/The Hoya Senior point guard Kevin Braswell had five steals against Fort Hood on Saturday.

There were some freshman mistakes, some sloppy passes and a few defensive lapses, but all in all Georgetown looked sharp blowing out Army-Fort Hood on Saturday by a 108-65 score.

Highlighted by some slick passes from senior point guard Kevin Braswell and a pair of long-range three pointers by junior forward Courtland Freeman, the No. 14 Hoyas ran away early and never looked back.

“We didn’t play perfect today, but we’re a little ahead of schedule I think,” Head Coach Craig Esherick said. “We have to move the ball better, but overall I was not displeased with what I saw.”

What Esherick saw was a Hoya squad that cruised to a 100-point day, impressive no matter who the opponent, but this Fort Hood squad appeared to be better than some of those that have graced cDonough in years past. As usual, forward Mike Sweetney led the way for Georgetown, dropping 21 points on five of six shooting from the field in just 16 minutes on the court despite being hounded by whoever Fort Hood could throw at him.

The game got off to a quick start for the Hoyas, who jumped out to an 8-2 lead in the opening minutes with a starting lineup of Kevin Braswell, Gerald Riley, Victor Samnick, Mike Sweetney and Wesley Wilson. Nonetheless, it was obvious the team is still working off some the rust. There were only 16 Hoya turnovers on the afternoon, but ballhandling and defense got sloppy at times, as is to be expected in the first exhibition of the year.

As the Hoyas continued to pull away early, forward Courtland Freeman came off the bench as the sixth man, the role the junior co-captain will have throughout this year. He was impressive in his first few minutes on the court coming off an injury-marred sophomore campaign, first hitting an NBA-range three and following it up with another three a few minutes later to make the score 22-4.

At this point the players started to flow in and out for Georgetown and freshmen guards Drew Hall and Tony Bethel made their first appearance as Hoyas.

Bethel didn’t take long to establish himself as an outside scoring threat, nailing a three on his first offensive touch. Bethel finished the game with 13 points (3 of 7 on three pointers and a pair of nice drives to the hoop) and three assists (no turnovers) while leading the team in minutes played, logging 27 despite coming off the bench.

After Georgetown jumped out to the early 18-point lead, the Hoyas cruised through to halftime, trading baskets with Fort Hood the rest of the way for a 48-31 lead at the break.

The second half was much of the same for the Hoyas, who dropped 60 on Fort Hood after the break, widening the lead to 50 points (108-58) with just under two minutes remaining.

A pair of sophomores helped Georgetown to that lead, stepping up after looking nervous before the half. Riley dropped 12 points in the second (18 total), including eight points in a row with five minutes left in the game. Forward Omari Faulkner scored five, capped off by a late dunk and foul after he came up with a steal at midcourt – a play which brought a wide smile to the face of the normally reserved Assistant Coach Ronny Thompson.

Another aspect of the game that pleased the coaching staff was Georgetown’s handle and shooting, as the Hoyas turned the ball over 11 fewer times than Fort Hood (16 versus 27) while shooting 44.4 percent from downtown and 52.8 percent from the field.

“Every single player on this team can drive to the hoop,” Esherick said. “We have more people that can stretch the defense and we have better ballhandlers. I also thought we shot the ball well today.”

The most intriguing aspect of the second half was not seeing Georgetown beat up on the slower Fort Hood squad – it was getting a peek at the different lineups Esherick threw out on the court and the development of individual players.

One of the more interesting combinations available to Esherick is in the backcourt, where he started Riley and Braswell but gave Hall and Bethel plenty of minutes. Hall will spell Braswell at the point, giving the senior captain an opportunity to play the two and allowing Esherick to occasionally go with the three-guard lineup of Braswell, Hall and Bethel.

Among the veterans on the court, junior Victor Samnick looked the most improved, sporting an improved jump shot (he finished five of eight from the field) and handle while showing off his impressive rebounding skills, pulling down a game-high 14 boards while adding 13 points for a double-double.

But one shortcoming of Georgetown that was readily apparent was depth, traditionally one of the Hoyas’ fortes. Sophomore guard RaMell Ross is out until mid-January with an injured foot and freshman Darrell Owens was declared ineligible to play this season by the NCAA Clearinghouse. He’s not the only Hoya with clearinghouse issues however, as Harvey Thomas is still waiting for a decision from the NCAA, for now leaving Georgetown with only nine scholarship players.

“He’s in limbo right now,” Esherick said. “We are moving in the right direction, and I’m hoping it’s going to be resolved soon.”

No matter what the outcome for Thomas, it is readily apparent that the national recognition given to Georgetown this preseason is readily deserved and the Hoyas are ready to make some noise in the Big East.

Next up on tap for the Hoyas is the New Zealand Select team on Thursday at 7:30 p.m. in McDonough Gymnasium. The game will be Georgetown’s final tune up before opening the regular season on Nov. 16 against Division III Marymount, which will also take place in McDonough.

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